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Women are increasingly treated as an expandable and costless resource that can absorb all the extra work that results from cuts to the resources that sustain life.

Article by Ruth Pearson, A feminist analysis of neoliberalism and austerity policies in the UK

https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/sites/default/files/s71_03pearson.pdf

"This article demonstrates that the ways in which these fiscal targets have been designed and implemented have disproportionately affected women, particularly low-income and BAME women. It also makes the case for investment in the social infrastructure as an engine of sustainable economic growth, and argues against a focus solely on investment in physical infrastructure and the creation of paid employment.

Gendered structures of the economy

Feminist economics goes beyond chronicling the impact on women of policies that privilege markets and money over people, important though that is. It also, crucially, provides an understanding of the economy as a gendered structure. It shows that decisions about economic policies - the determination of where investment is increased and where it is withdrawn, which services will flourish and which will be run down, whose living standards will be protected or boosted and whose reduced - are not gender neutral, even though they may make no explicit reference to gender."

 

"As austerity has been rolled out in the UK since 2010, it has been clear that Conservative and Conservative-led governments have had other priorities. In spite of their legal obligation to consider the gender impact of public policy (the ‘equality duty’), these administrations have ignored the reality of the way the economy functions in real time and space, introducing measures which pay no attention to the gendered division of labour, especially in terms of the unpaid work involved in household reproduction. On the contrary, their policies treat women, who have the largest responsibility for these activities, as an expandable and costless resource which can absorb all the extra work that is a necessary corollary of the reduction of the state and collective resources which help sustain life. The resources that are being whittled away include primary and secondary health care, comprehensive and appropriate child care for pre-school infants and children, education expenditure at all levels, and affordable and regulated housing and social care for older people and those whose disabilities or sickness prevent them from actively participating in the labour market."

 

"Neoliberal thinking is based on misleading and inaccurate assumptions about how the economy functions: it does not take into account the centrality of reproductive work. Yet, once the contribution of this work to the production of people at different points throughout their life course is recognised, the ways in which reproductive services are produced becomes central to any analysis. Crucially, it allows an understanding that, if the costs of reproductive services such as child care or elder care have to be paid for from wages and salaries, or from social security payments - rather than being provided by public services in local or central government - the result will inevitably be an increasing reliance on unpaid family carers. In the longer term this is bad for the economy as a whole, as well as placing unfair burdens on women."

 

Read the full document here: https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/sites/default/files/s71_03pearson.pdf